Political scandal

We have our own political scandal here in The Netherlands now. This afternoon our Dutch government resigned over mismanagement of childcare subsidies. From the Reuters news agency:

THE HAGUE (Reuters) – Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced the resignation of his government on Friday, accepting responsibility for years of mismanagement of childcare subsidies, which wrongfully drove thousands of families to financial ruin.
Rutte said he had handed his resignation to King Willem-Alexander. The cabinet would remain in place in a caretaker capacity to manage the coronavirus crisis for now, with an election already due on March 17.
The resignation follows a parliamentary inquiry last month that found bureaucrats at the tax service had wrongly accused families of fraud. (Rest of the article here in case you’re interested or another one here).

The man in the middle is our king Willem-Alexander, the guy on the left next to him with the dark blue tie is our Prime Minister Mark Rutte

This whole scandal has been going on for a quite a while now and two months before our next planned elections this resignation of the cabinet has now happened. Mr Esther, due to his work, knows a lot about this issue and says it’s all indeed a mess of miscommunication between parliament, government, ministries and an administrative mess at the tax service. What irks him about this whole scandal is not that the government has resigned but the sensationalist tone the media takes that implies that everyone in government is corrupt and not to be trusted, as if people intended this to happen! No one intended this, and yes, it’s all been a mess but no one made this happen because of any personal gain. People in government are very well-intentioned, social, and all really care that this mess has happened and want to do everything to make things better. They are working on new strategies right now because no one wants something like this to happen again. But learning from mistakes and well-intentioned people trying to make things better are not news.

Now, with the elections coming, especially far right creepy politicans like Geert Wilders and Thierry Baudet will milk this as if government is not to be trusted and only wants bad things for people.

They won’t look at the grey areas and won’t help make things better, they’ll just bully and divide and come up with short-sighted slogans and ‘solutions’ and a lot of people will follow them for that. I hope the far right won’t gain too much over this scandal. Geert Wilders recently published a reprehensible racist anti-Islam agenda for the upcoming election and I don’t want him gaining any more supporters than he already has (his party is the second largest in parliament right now, but luckily he is reduced to being in the opposition and not in governement).

As for other politicians in the upcoming election: I wonder whether our prime minister will suffer losses over this. I’ve never been a huge fan of Mark Rutte and his VVD centre-right party but he’s been an OK prime minister and people (me too) have been generally approving of his handling of the Corona crisis, so that may help him. I’ll never vote for him (even before this crisis) but he will be far preferred to any of the two wankers here above. I like some of our central/left politicians alright but not enough to vote for them, so I’m eagerly awaiting who the new Labour Party candidate will be, maybe that will help. Of course, party policy strategies will weigh strongly in my decision but it helps if the party I like also has a good leader that I like. Elections on March 17th here will be another emotional rollercoaster for me, I just know it.

15 thoughts on “Political scandal

  1. Servetus

    That was my concern — if the current coalition collapses does that put Wilders / the far Right in the driver’s seat? I don’t know anywhere near as much about Dutch politics as you know about US politics, but I have been reading about this for the last week or so.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No, there’s no way Wilders will be in the driver’s seat (unless he wins biggest party in the next election). There is (or was) a coalition government which Wilders’ party is not a part of, so he remains in the opposition as he has been. With the cabinet resigning the government is now ‘demissionair’ (i.e. outgoing), so only a ‘caretaker cabinet’. They aren’t allowed to make any big decisions/legislations anymore, the only exception now being still helming the Corona crisis. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demissionary_cabinet. So, basically, all comes to a standstill until the next government is formed, which can take a while if the vote in March is splintered over many parties.

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      1. Servetus

        Thanks for the explanation. So we just have to hope that Wilders can’t win a vote big enough to let him form his own government. Will keep fingers x’ed.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thanks! So far, it doesn’t look like it but a lot can happen in two months and he seemed to be getting really close last time around. People were shocked here, though, after the Brexit vote and Trump winning the presidency in 2016, so I think that is the main reason why he didn’t win biggest party last time around. I hope some sense will prevail again.

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          1. Servetus

            There’s always a chunk of people who vote far Right in protest, and they usually get away with responsibility for that, unless there are enough of them to bring a far Right government to power. Maybe events in the US will scare off a few of the protest voters into picking a “bürgerliche” party.

            Liked by 1 person

          2. Oh, and also, I wonder how much this scandal will damage Rutte. If it does end up damaging him a lot (he was the last cabinet’s PM as well when the scandal took place), we may be in for a rough ride. For now, though, I think his Corona handling balances that.

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            1. Servetus

              the center consensus read on the non-reelection of DJT is “it’s the virus, stupid.” The economy would have beaten all the other issues, probably, but the failure to take public health issues seriously (and now the ensuing recession and the related borrowing, plus high unemployment) were probably enough to swing enough people in Biden’s direction in the swing states. So I hope that Rutte’s actual response to the virus saves his party!

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              1. Yes! Of course there is also (valid) criticism but largely he’s doing fine. This is the top issue now and will also be in March, so no wonder leaders fall or don’t fall because of it.

                Liked by 1 person

  2. “People in government are very well-intentioned.” Sadly that is something we cannot say in the US. Some certainly are, but we have many who are there to implement harmful policies. We also have incompetent dolts. BTW it is quite a disorienting experience for me to read your casual mentions of the King!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Maybe I didn’t express precisely enough. I think there are definitely some very harmful politicians out there, in my country as well, that want to implement very harmful policies and I will oppose those people with all I’ve got to (peacefully) keep them out of government.

      In this case, however, I don’t think anyone meant harm with the childcare policies, the government just intended to make sure there were no fraudulent childcare subsidy claims and that those parents that did need subsidies would get them. The way the policies were enforced turned out to be disastrous; many mistakes were made in implementing the work processes to meet the parliament’s and government’s wishes, cases were wrongly judged, even rules that turned out to be discrimatory were not signalled as problematic and communications inside government agencies and between government agencies and policy makers were sorely lacking. So, yes, a lot of mistakes made which makes taking responsibilty and resigning the right thing but to me even the resignation shows that all actors in this meant well, they just failed terribly.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, unexpected consequences is a regular problem with governmental good intentions. It must be a problem with all large organizations, that signals are missed and wires crossed. But when children are at risk, it is especially sad to see this.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. It is. Families went into financial crisis over this and people even divorced from all the tensions that caused. It’s a good thing this has been found out and will hopefully be turned around now.

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  3. I saw the news today and immediately thought of you, Esther. Sounds as if this is just exactly what NO country needs – a scandal that leads to resignation, and thus opens the door to the right wingers. I really hope the NL is going to vote for the right sort of people in March. 17th of March – that’ Paddy’s day, btw. Hopefully a good omen.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. So far Rutte’s party is polling highest. The far right party of Wilders is polling second and still quite far behind Rutte’s party. This corona crisis and Rutte’s handling of it may work to his advantage. As long as Rutte keeps on disavowing Wilders and insisting that he will not include him in a future coalition (like he did the last time around) we may be fine. It’ll get tricky if Wilders becomes very popular and I really hope he doesn’t get popular over this crisis.

      I’m holding on to a positive St Paddy’s day. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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